Hanan's Story

I moved to the UK from Eritrea in East Africa just over a year ago as an Asylum seeker. When I first arrived I felt very afraid, I was on my own and I couldn’t speak any English at all.

I grew up in Keren where I was studying at college and I was doing well, so I missed my family and friends a lot. I had heard of England but I didn’t really know anything about it, I didn’t know that London was the capital and I certainly didn’t think I would end up living here.

When I first arrived in the UK, I was staying in National Asylum Support Service (Nass) accommodation in Middlesbrough. I was there for about 2-3 months until I received refugee status, which meant I now had to find somewhere to live. As I said I didn’t know anything about London, but a friend I had made during my time in Nass Accommodation had already moved to London so I decided to join her. At first I stayed with her in a shared house but then I was referred to Bethany House.

I had slowly started to pick up little bits of English in the first few months I arrived in the UK, it was getting me by but I felt I needed to understand it more if I really wanted to get on. I enrolled at The City of Westminster College where I am now doing a 3 month course in English which I am really enjoying. At the end of the course I will hopefully get a certificate which means I can then move on to the next level. I am very pleased to be at College, I was very proud of my education and enjoyed studying back in Eritrea so it feels good to be studying again.

I have been at Bethany House for about 6 months now so I am still relatively new. My key worker Kaya has been helping me to focus on my goals and what I am going to do to achieve them. I found myself some voluntary work in the local Oxfam shop as I felt it would be good experience for me but I needed a reference for them to give me the job which Kaya provided for me.

I really enjoy working there as I feel it is giving me confidence to speak better English and it is good experience of being in a working environment. The work changes with each shift, sometimes I am working on the shop floor and other times I work in the back of the shop pricing up all the items which have been donated. I do one afternoon a week but I am also doing other college courses such as knitting and a computer club on Friday afternoons. I also attend the JSA work programme as I am looking for permanent work.

I am still young so I am not sure what the future holds but it is feeling positive. I would really like to learn more about computers and maybe get a job in that area. I am very happy to be living in the UK and I no longer feel afraid like I did when I first arrived. I feel I am steadily building a new life for myself, I am learning everyday and I want to keep learning and progressing to achieve the best possible future I can.